Friday, August 30, 2019

1-on-1 with Big South at Big Cedar Lodge

He turned 10. I'm still kind of in shock that I have a ten year old now. This kid made me a mom and here we are, over halfway to him moving out of our home. Goodness, I hope I am doing right by him.

Justin and I decided to do something different for the kids Double Digit birthdays. We have friends who take each of their son's on a special one on one birthday get away for their 10th birthdays and we loved this idea for multiple reasons. One on one time is so important for any kids but when you have both boys, who are relatively close in age, it's even more important. We get a little one on one time here and there with each of the boys but hardly ever is it one on one time with both Justin and I and NEVER is it for any extended period of time. This would not only be something to look forward to but it would be a special time creating memories and saying YES!

We contemplated making it a big trip, flying somewhere neat but in the end, we figured that what was most important, was our time together. In order to make the most of our time, we decided to stick close by--Branson, MO was our destination of choice, Big Cedar to be more exact. & Logan, well, he would get to spend a weekend with Grandma Sara and Papa Tom, which just happened to be on the way. Thursday night after school we drove to my mom and dad's where were celebrated Kaden with Zack, Lindsey, Madison, Trenton, Aunt Kelly and Cousin Kailey. Grandma Sara stepped in for me and made him his cake, he asked for Black Panther and Black Panther he got.

We were up bright and early on Friday and we said our goodbyes to Logan and off we went.

First stop, Silver Dollar City. Kaden isn't the biggest when it comes to riding rides but he loves walking around looking at everything and that we did. He decided before leaving that he wanted to spend his money on a ring and he found one that he could have his name written on and that was rainbow. He was one happy almost nine-year old.

We did manage one ride as a group--Miner's something---basically we shoot targets with guns that really weren't working or maybe they were but somehow Kaden scored over 890k...birthday luck!?

We got some baseball fielding practice in to before we left Silver Dollar City, as well as some yummy funnel cakes--red velvet, Oreo and regular. Kaden and I were in heaven. We didn't stick around all day because we had lots of other things to do - like hang out in the pool. 

When we arrived at Big Cedar we found out that we weren't actually on site with Big Cedar, we were at Camp Long Creek which was about a 5 minute drive away. At first I was a little worried because we wouldn't be next to everything but that quickly changed when we saw our quaint sleeping quarters and that it had it's own pool too.

Kaden loved this pool. Not only did he basically have it all to himself but there was a "hot tub" too and thankfully it wasn't too hot so we didn't limit him to just 10 minutes at a time. 

At this point of the trip he was still digging that it was just him and us. I had my suspicions that wouldn't be the case after a few more days. 

That evening we decided to head back over to Big Cedar and check out Fun Mountain. We played pool. We ate dinner on their outside patio. We go carted. Wasn't sure how Kaden was going to do with it because it was new to him but he did great. Didn't always look like he was having fun but after we were done he said he LOVED it and couldn't wait to do it again.

When we returned to our cozy little cabin he instantly asked Justin to make a fire for the Smores they had brought to our cabin for him. Justin obliged and I ran up to the front desk to grab the boccie ball because they had the cutest little boccie course right across the street. We played a few rounds while the fire pit was heating up and then we enjoyed the best Smores a nine year old has ever made.

And then it was bed time. Because that very next morning he would be waking up as a 10 year old. DOUBLE DIGITS. I'm not sure how that's even possible.

But it happened. We started the day off with some breakfast at the marina and then we headed back to Fun Mountain as both Justin and Kaden were eyeing the golf simulator. We played Pebble Beach that morning and learned that maybe golf is something for Kaden to try out, he has great form.

And then we brunched before moving onto the mini-golf course. & by this time, it was getting hot so of course we took him back to the pool before heading off to our surprise evening adventure. 

Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede. At first he wasn't too sure about the whole thing but that quickly went away once he got a better idea of what was happening. And we had to take a picture in front of this stable---GUS. During the pre-show they even wished him happy birthday. His smile said it all.

Sunday brought our last full day at Big Cedar. We had the whole day to do whatever he wanted and of course, he wanted to go to the pool again--so we did. This time we picked a pool back at Big Cedar and this time the hot tub was hot so we had to limit his time but he didn't mind as he and Justin worked on his quarterback arm for the upcoming football season.

We went back to the cabin for a few hours to relax as we had a big evening ahead of us & when we returned to Big Cedar it was incredibly hot so we did what any smart people would do, we headed back to Fun Mountain. We started off a little laser tag which led into dinner (not on the patio because of how hot and sweaty we were) and that led to Kaden wanting to tackle the ropes course. Kaden doesn't really care for heights and as much as he WANTS to do these things, he often talks himself out of them because his fears get too big. NOT THIS TIME. He walked right up to the course and he went. He may have done the same path a few times and didn't venture up to level two or three but what we did was HUGE--like, brought tears to my eyes HUGE! He was so proud of himself and Justin and I were too.

After he got done with the ropes course we headed back over to the Labor Day Celebration where we enjoyed live music as Kaden ran from one activity to the next. He learned how to shoot a bow. He jumped in a couple bounce houses. He played golf again. He went out on a little pond and kayaked. 

This time with just him was so very special. It was much needed for all of us. Being able to just be there for Kaden and have him open up to us in ways that he doesn't normally was pretty neat. We learned so much about his relationship with his friends, with us, with his brother, with his doggies. We got to hear about his favorites -- cars, foods, vacations -- he just got to talk about anything and everything knowing he had our undivided attention. 

But Monday morning came---which meant it was time to say our goodbyes to Big Cedar and Camp Long Creek and pick up Logan. Kaden couldn't wait to see Logan, he missed having his brother to play with and to share his excitement with. He made sure to tell Logan that too -- and to give him a couple things from the trip---the purple llama from Fortnite and then some hand-dipped candles he made at Silver Dollar City for him. 

It was so nice to have the entire family back together just as it should be BUT those three little days away were everything. Everything to me. More importantly, everything to Kaden. 

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Fall Ball Begins

We were expecting an earlier start to Fall Ball BUT Mother Nature had different plans. She rained out our first 4 games -- which meant the first time these boys would be back on the field was for a late night Wednesday game. I say late night because the game didn't start until 8:00 and we had to at least play an hour and 45 minutes before we could call it...

& even though it wasn't these three's first kid pitch game, that didn't mean there weren't jitters leading up to the game. However, once that first pitch was thrown, all the nerves went away and the boys came to play. Little C started off on the mound with Logan at 2nd and Drake behind the plate but before the night was over Logan had moved behind the plate and managed two get a couple outs--caught one trying to steal home and although he dropped the third strike, he picked it up & was able to tag the batter out before he got too far away from him. It was a great first outing for this crew and they walked away with a W.

Kind of crazy being the veteran mom though---usually I'm the nervous one but I found myself offering encouragement and calming powers to our friends--first kid pitch gets all the emotions going, for everyone but they all did great--parents too!

Kaden and his team kicked off their season with a tournament since their two weekend games were cancelled. We knew we had an uphill battle ahead of us but we didn't realize just how uphill it was going to be. We drew a team that we had tied with twice during the regular season but this season they looked a little different--having dropped 6 of their players for 6 AAA boys--these boys could rock it. The boys played well but we just couldn't hang with their bats. We ended up not only losing that one but the Saturday game too. And as frustrated as the boys may have been about not playing up to their potential in that second game, they shook it off fairly quickly when they saw Icees & Cake pops. We decided that since Kaden would be gone this week from practices and the Wednesday night game is school night, that celebrating his birthday with his baseball buds on Saturday would be the best idea and I think it's exactly what these boys needed. Sunday's games ended up being canceled due to the heavy amount of rain we received but we will take the field again on Wednesday to start league play and we are all hoping for a better go this time around. 

No matter what---best group of boys around!

Olathe West Owls--Flag Football

For a little while the boys have been expressing interest in playing football. I'm not sure how I feel about the whole contact sport and letting my kid play but flag football is something that I could easily get behind. We signed Logan up to play with some buddies and they just got their uniforms. I mean, I thought seeing him in his baseball uniform was as cute as it gets but his football jersey is pretty darn cute. & he looks so serious and fierce. 

They started the season off with a little Olathe Owls scrimmage led by the high school and junior high teams. The boys had such a great time and even scored two touchdowns as a team! Cheers to what looks like an exciting first outing with football. 

Thursday, August 15, 2019

A New School = New Transportation

Changing schools also meant we were going to have to rethink our mode of transportation. When we were at Cedar Creek Elementary we had the option of the bus but now that we lived so close, we didn't. Justin and I could figure out how to get them to school, it was the getting home that was more of a challenge. After talking it over with some of our friends from the neighborhood and their kiddos, we decided we would let the boys ride their bikes to school. The plan would be for the South boys to ride up to meet their buddies at the old bus stop and then from there, the four of them would bike to school. & then they would wait for each other after school and once they were all ready, they would take off for home. Kaden's job was to ensure that he didn't leave Logan behind and watch out for him, so he brought up the rear---and for anyone that knows Kaden, that takes a lot as he totally wants to be first and go the faster than anyone else. 

But that was the deal. They would ride together, cross the street together and then at one designated area they would get off their bikes and walk them across the street to the school. 

I won't lie--I was a nervous wreck that first day. Would they make it okay? Would they go straight there and straight back? Would they follow our directions? Thankfully, we've got some awesome neighborhood friends and eyes were on them from the moment they left to the time they got to school. One of the moms was tracking them on her son's watch, one of the dad's had access to video feeds and could see that they arrived safely. But my heart was still racing which meant I needed a little more peace of mind for myself. With a little research I found Relay---marketed as a smartphone without a screen. Basically it can track them via GPS and then they can utilize it as like a walkie talkie to talk to me. It allows me to set a "geofence" so when the enter or leave a designated area--determined by me--it notifies me. We ordered them that day, received them the following day and my anxiety was reduced significantly. Thank goodness for technology -- especially technology that ISN'T a phone---they aren't old enough for that yet! 

Now winter...winter may bring a slew of new problems. I'm sure we will figure it out though, just like we have these first few weeks.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

First Day at the new CCE

Today was the day--we officially had a 4th grader and a 3rd grader. Better yet, we had two boys who were pretty excited to get the school year rolling. That is after Logan got over the whole SOCK issue--let's just say, I wasn't allowing the socks he was wearing for the first day of school. Day two, have it, not day one---that's one of three days I call the wardrobe shots! 

At our last school they were known as the South boys, I hope that carries over. 

And first day pics wouldn't be complete without a picture with dad and with mom. They've changed so much since this time last year. 

& then we met up with our dear friends, the Clelands, and walked the couple of blocks from their house to the school. Bennett and Flynn were starting Kindergarten and everyone was so excited for them. Thankfully, we wouldn't have to wait too long to hear how the first day went because it was just a half day of school... 

Monday, August 12, 2019

Hello Canyon Creek Elementary

We had been talking about this week for over a year now. Last year at this time we were walking to our last sneak-a-peak at Cedar Creek because we knew our new elementary school down the road was opening up & the boys would be transitioning to it. There have been lots of emotions about this week-excitement, fear, anxiousness, sadness--but the moment we stepped through the front doors of their new school, all those worries were released. This was exactly where they needed to be and seeing all the wonderful features and characteristics of this school only got them more and more excited to step through those doors again on Wednesday to kick off the school year. 

We toured the school. Got to check out the music room, the gym, the art room, the IDEA lab and then the library/commons area. When you walk into this school there are two hallways off the main hallway, on leads to 4th and 5th, the other leads to k-3rd hallways. In the middle of those two main hallways is the HUGE resource area with the library, the media lab, & so many fun features to make the kids fall in love with reading. Both boys were immediately drawn to the reading nooks and I pray that this kicks off a new found love of reading for Kaden. 

We then ventured onto 3rd grade to drop off Logan's supplies and to meet his teacher, Mrs. Lynch. His classroom is just the cutest and so inviting. They have flexible seating (every classroom does) and have the ability to choose where they are sitting. They have a learning couch, learning stools that turn into floor desks, and my favorite feature---his room is connected by a sliding glass door to the other 3rd grade class which will allow them collaborate more. Logan was blessed with a slew of his friends for classmates---Caden, Evan, Henry, Kellan, Chase, Tatum. He's going to have a great year. 

We crossed back through the library commons and headed to the 4th grade wing. As soon as we walked in, Kaden's teacher, greeted him by name. He was a little taken aback as he had never met her but quickly realized that she had seen his picture. I was sold. Kaden made his way around the room checking out all the flexible seating options---this is going to be huge for him. He needs the ability to have a little freedom & this is going to be blessing and hopefully a game changer. He also noticed that his room was attached to Jax's room and even though they didn't get in the same class, he was super pumped he'd be able to see him throughout the day. We got to briefly chit-chat with his teacher, Mrs. Prestridge, and as much as I was worried about the transition to a new school, new administrators and new teachers for Kaden, I just know this is going to be a GREAT year for him. I can't wait to watch his LIGHT shine BRIGHT!

We wrapped the evening up with some Kona Ice with our biker buddies.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Back to School Shopping

Somehow summer is over and it's time to pick out school supplies. Not sure how we got here so quickly but we are here, nonetheless. Last year I took each of the boys on a solo school shopping trip--this gave me a little one on one time with each of them and then the other got to have time with dad. Logan went second last year which meant he was up first this year---and yes, I had to actually look back to see who went when to make sure it was fair. 

This year didn't seem to take as long as previous years and for the most part we found everything that we needed on that one trip to the store. Logan was in charge of the list & the cart, I just approved or disapproved of his choices or made suggestions on which brand to go with--like Crayola and Elmers. And with our annual shopping trips also comes our annual sidewalk chalk pictures! The boys are really starting to get annoyed with me when it comes to these pictures but I just don't care---it takes no time at all but man does Logan hate wearing the specific shirt and shorts that I lay out for him. Oh and then doing his hair too. You'd think I was taking all his privileges away--which I almost did after seeing his reaction. Before we knew it, the "shoot" was over & he agreed that it didn't take long at all.

 Next up was Kaden. He was ready and so very excited about shopping for 4th grade. Besides driving to the store, he pretty much handled it all. He led the way. He handled the list. He pushed the cart. I think he would have paid had he brought his wallet. He was most excited about the headphones he got and a mini-stapler. Seriously, mini-stapler made his day. Now when it came time for his "shoot" he was all about it, well, maybe not all about it but he wasn't complaining and he got in and out in a matter of minutes. He even did his own hair for the little shoot. 

So hard to believe that this guy is in 4th grade. I'd post some throwback pictures but I'd start to cry and none of need that. 

Monday, August 5, 2019

Laurie Hillbilly BBQ

It's not often that we get to go to the lake two weekends in a row. And for the last 6 years we have never been able to go down the first weekend of August because I have always been attending a conference in Vegas...but not this year. This year was the first year in where I didn't have to go & as soon as Justin learned this, he and the Pitt Smokers signed up for the Laurie Hillbilly BBQ competition in Laurie, the little town next to our lake house.

The plan was that we would all caravan down -- the Seilers, the Griffiths and the Souths, we would pull the trailer. & we did, only had one little mishap when the head vent came flying off the trailer on 435 but no one was hurt, all was good and we kept on going---we didn't even know it happened. We arrived into Laurie about 3ish & we went straight to the BBQ site to drop off the trailer. The guys had decided that since they were using can smokers they would just sleep at the cabin and get up super early to head in & that's exactly what they did. Before leaving we decided to let the boys play in the Buck a Duck race--basically, a dollar buys a rubber ducky and they dump all the duckies into a stream and the first one that crosses the finish line wins 50% of the pot. It was a fun little fund raiser so we thought why not, bought our ducks but we didn't stick around for the show. Instead we went back to the lake house to enjoy the water and fishing. 

We should have though. about 4:45 Jay got a phone call asking for Logan South. We all thought it was weird as why would someone be calling Jay asking for our son BUT then we realized what was going on. Logan's duck had one the race and he was $62 richer! He was a gracious winner though and gave each one of the kids $5 and then we bartered for what he really got to keep, he was pulling for $24 -- that I could get behind but he had to wait until we got home. I placed it in my wallet and for the next 72 hours he would not let me forget that I said $24--I get it kid!

We headed back into town to collect his winnings, attend the chef's meeting and then grab some dinner at one of our favorite local establishments, then it was back to the lake house for some sleep before the big boys had to get up and head out for the competition. 

As soon as we were all up and around the kids were ready to head to the water and wanted to go fishing again. I probably fixed our fishing poles more times than I can count on two hands and we only caught one fish, I caught it, but it was worth seeing them all have fun.

Mid morning, Kaden, wasn't all too interested in being in the water, he just wanted to be with his dad. So I texted Justin and he said that while he couldn't leave to come and get him, I could bring him up. This brought a smile to Kaden's face. I ran him in there and he spent the rest of the morning helping get everything ready for turn ins. He even got to smoke his own ribs from start to finish. I mean look at how yummy these look.

After lunch the rest of us, the girls plus Logan, headed into the BBQ to finish out the turn ins and then to wait for the awards. It's been a good while since the boys and I have been able to be there with Justin for the results due to baseball so this was a special treat for us all. 

And it was soooooo worth it too. The Pitt Smokers took 1st PLACE in chicken -- Woo-Hoo! Although they were called up as the 2nd place winners but once Justin got up there he realized what he had done and said, "Wait, that isn't right, Pitt Smokers, hold on..." he then announced the 2nd place winner and then re-announced their first place finish! We were all super excited, especially the kids & gosh darn it, I missed getting it on video, forgot to hit the button. They didn't end up placing in the top 10 for anything else BUT they were 12th in brisket and finished 8th overall! It was a great finish for them, beating out some HUGE names in the BBQ circuit too. So proud of them all.

And just as exciting, they have a KidsQ and both the boys want to participate next year so I guess we will see you same time next year, Laurie Hillbilly BBQ.

We were all pretty wiped from the early start and the long day at the competition that we decided to stick close to home on Saturday evening. The kids swam, we ate some first place chicken and the rest of their BBQ leftovers, plus Kaden's ribs & just chilled. It was an even earlier night than the evening before which also meant it was an earlier morning for most of the house. And at 8:30 we were meeting more friends in town at Val's for breakfast. The Walshes were down at Scott's lakehouse and the Berbs were with them. Thankfully, Val's, was able to fit us all in & let me just tell you, their cinnamon cake, may have been bigger than Kaden's arm but that didn't stop him from putting a giant dent in the thing!

We immediately went home and headed out on the water. We met some other friends in a cove, headed off to Franky and Louie's before heading back to the house and just relaxing on the dock. The Griffiths took off late that afternoon and then we decided to hit up Jolly Rogers for dinner and take in a little night fishing. 

We ended our little lake weekend with a quite kayak ride on Monday morning before loading up and heading home. It was a perfect way to end our summer at the lake, filled with so many things that I love. Summer may be coming to an end but our time at the lake isn't, we will be back this fall. Fall at the lake has become one of my favorite things!